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Sunday, 29 June 2014

Happy Families

In the last week I've had two different branches of the family pop by for a flying visit. That's one of the many joys of living in a beautiful part of the world, people always want to come  for a visit. 

It's been great to catch up, and be totally spoilt, by people who care. I've been out on a boat trip, been taken for a lovely meal, and had a few drinks too many at a BBQ (well, it's not often I get to do that). We had an absolute ball and didn't stop laughing all night. I'm definitely getting older though as I certainly didn't drink that much, but I knew about it the next day! That's the draw back of having fun with folks a lot younger than oneself I suppose.

The weather stayed fine while they were here, and it was brilliant to sit late into the night talking and laughing with the people you love. One of life's simple pleasures. Very happy days indeed. Now life is getting back to normal but I really feel like I've recharged my batteries. Just what I needed, I really didn't like the miserable me!

Friday, 30 May 2014

Five Minutes to Myself

As I actually have a bit of time on my hands when I'm not just so exhausted all I want to do is sleep, I thought I'd check in and let you all know how things are going here. I know, I've been lousy at updating lately. Life just seems to get in the way.

I had a bit of a scare a few weeks back when I had to call an ambulance for my husband. He's Ok, but it was pretty horrible at the time. He hates hospitals, and I mean really hates them, bordering on phobic, so I wasn't very popular when I reached for my phone but as he had severe chest pains and could hardly breathe 999 was the only sensible course of action. We live quite a way from the nearest A&E so he always feels so guilty calling out an ambulance, but they were amazing and were here so quickly! Luckily it wasn't his heart this time but it still gave us a real scare, and although we still don't know exactly what happened that night he hasn't really been right ever since. Even the slightest thing leaves him shockingly out of breath so I'm running around even more than usual trying to get him to do as he's been told and rest. What is it about men that makes them want to do the impossible as soon as they've been told they can't?

We've known for a long time that we need to move. The 'bedroom tax' on our two bed flat is crippling us and although I've got the arrears pretty much under control, it's going to take a while to clear them completely. There just isn't anything else available though, very few smaller properties come up and there is a lot of competition for them, now though hubby is having increasing problems with the stairs (ours is a first floor flat) and if we don't move soon I can see a time when he's house bound. With luck the extra problems will put us higher up the list - every cloud has a silver lining.

What else is there? Oh yes :) I'm going to be a grandma again! That's something to look forward to isn't it? After all the devastation of last year a little rainbow baby is on his or her way to make us smile again after the storms.

Well, I better start thinking about making something for tea. I had planned a chicken salad but I forgot to take a chicken breast out of the freezer to defrost. I'm sure I have candy floss for brains at the moment. Hmmm, doesn't leave me with very many options.
Baked Spuds! Oh that's a relief. I'd forgotten I'd bought some potatoes on Wednesday. With a bit of grated cheese and the salad I was going to do anyway....sorted. Nice and effortless, which is just the way I like things at the moment. I really need a boost of energy from somewhere before I grind to a halt.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Feeling Sorry for Myself

That's another bank holiday we've spent with no money. It always seems to work out that way. Occasionally we may find we have a pound or two spare at a weekend, or at least can pinch a bit back from somewhere else if necessary, but if a bank holiday is looming something crops up and we always seem to be absolutely penniless. While everyone else seems to be relaxing or out enjoying themselves, we muddle through another mundane few days.

I shouldn't complain really, it's no big deal, but I do sometimes think it might be nice to do something frivolous like treat ourselves to an ice cream, or be able to visit somewhere new. I feel a bit cheated really. I used to work bank holidays, and weekends, all of them! It was the nature of my job that weekends and bank holidays were the busiest times so days off then were rare. Now it's the total opposite but I still don't get to do things.

I did take a walk into town, and along to the beach. It was incredibly busy and it was good to see all the local businesses doing so well. Sadly my husband's health has been particularly bad and there was no way he could have walked with me. I think that's what upset me the most. Without having fuel in the car he's pretty much house bound at the moment. Normally we don't mind doing things without having money in our pockets, we can have a good time anyway, but as it was he really wasn't up to doing anything.

I don't often feel sorry for myself. I usually just shrug things off and decide tomorrow is another day. I make the best of what we have and appreciate it all. But I feel a weariness I just can't shake off at the moment, a lethargy that is really dragging me down. I suppose we all have our bad days and I'm no different, but I don't like it! This isn't like me at all. I'm finding it hard to be motivated about even the smallest things.

Oh well, it will pass, I'm sure, and I'll be back to my usual self. I just hope its sooner rather than later.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Cannot Compute

Computer problems have been driving me crazy lately. We can't afford to get it fixed so hubby's been tinkering. They love to tinker don't they? Most of my childhood memories of my Dad are of him with his head stuck under the bonnet, or talking to his legs as they protruded from underneath the car. I'm sure most of the time there was nothing wrong with it, he just enjoyed tinkering. I think his attempts were more successful that my husbands though. The more he insists he's 'fixed it', the more problems I seem to have.

I rely on the internet to connect me to the outside world. I don't socialise, we don't have the money to go out really, and I don't really like leaving him on his own too often. We like spending time together (good job really) but it does mean that since moving to Cornwall a few years ago we have made no friends. We'll chat to neighbours, and there are one or two people we know locally but we see them rarely (and when I say locally I mean 30 or 40 miles away) so I can feel very isolated at times.

I use facebook to keep in touch with family as it cuts the cost of phone calls, and for the same reason use emails to deal with most problems that arise. As a result any problem with the laptop is a major headache. I suspect the poor, overworked, old thing is on its last legs and I really don't know what I'll do once it finally gives up the ghost. Still, it seems to be cooperative this afternoon and working reasonably well so I thought I'd drop by and say hello to let you all know I'm ok, just battling with a burnt out, stream driven old computer that likes to put its feet up and have a rest every so often.
Usually when I have the most work to do.

Saturday, 22 February 2014

My Yo-Yo Week

It's been a strange week really, full of ups and downs that have produced swinging emotions and the feeling of never quite being in control.

It started with a snotty letter from the council informing us they'll begin the process of eviction if we don't bring the rent up to date. That produced panic, tears, worry, anger, helplessness and eventually resignation. I'll get it sorted. I've been in touch and let them know we're having problems, and they know we always catch up whenever we've fallen behind before so I'm hoping they will see sense and realise that its only a temporary glitch. After all, the arrears actually amount to less than two weeks rent. We aren't talking about a fortune here, but to us trying to find £130 from nowhere, well, it doesn't happen overnight.

On the upside, we now have double glazing. Yay! We were told when we moved to this flat that we would be getting double glazing 'soon'. It's taken 3 1/2 years but it's finally in place. Very soon we should have loft and cavity wall insulation too. I'm hoping this will all mean greatly reduced heating bills...which in turn will make paying the rent easier.

My kettle blew up. Again. I don't have much luck with kettles. I was resorting to boiling water in a saucepan, but I found our old camping kettle at the back of the cupboard so that will have to do until we manage to get another electric one.

It was my grandson's inquest on Thursday.
I was really upset that I couldn't afford to travel up for it, as I knew it would be a difficult day for them, but my mum went with them instead and actually, it was better than expected. They'd already had a meeting with the coroner so he was able to keep it brief, which was a relief with the press being present but still an upsetting day.

My grandson now has a headstone and his parents ordered the first breathing monitor to be loaned out in my grandson's memory for a rainbow baby (that's a baby born after the loss of a sibling). We started fundraising for his headstone as they are so dreadfully expensive, but thanks to all the wonderful support we've had the final payment was paid this week and his beautiful Peter Pan headstone was put in place so now we are continuing with the fundraising to help other families.

I scalded my hand filling up a hot water bottle. Note to self* In future pour the water in the bottle, and not over your fingers! Fortunately it wasn't too bad, painful but no lasting damage.

It's been a real roller coaster week.



If you haven't yet signed the petition to ban cot bumpers, please do so.
http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/54991

We have a long way to go to reach the 100,000 signatures we need.

A safe cot is a bare cot. No bumpers, loose blankets, pillows, duvets or teddies.
Know the risks, reduce the risks.
A safe place to sleep is every baby's right.

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Feeding the 5,000 with Three Chicken Breasts

OK, so I may be exaggerating a bit there, I don't think even I could stretch a few chicken breasts far enough to feed thousands, but I did feed two hungry adults an evening meal for four days with them so that's almost as good in my book.

I'm quite a fan of the bags of frozen Smart Price/Value/M savers chicken breasts (I chop and change my supermarket depending on which is most convenient at the time). You get 1kg for £4, give or take a penny or two and they cook really nicely.

Of course I'd rather buy a free range chicken, but I can't afford that and if the truth be known my husband cannot be trusted around chicken. He loves it. Cook a whole one and he'd devour it as soon as my back was turned, picking cold chicken off the bone until there was nothing left. So these frozen chicken breasts are ideal as I can just defrost as much as I need and there's nothing for naughty little big fingers to pinch later.

Last weekend I was starting to panic a little over food, or the lack of it. Hubby had been ill and I hadn't been able to get to do the shopping, which meant I'd ended up having to buy bits and bobs to see us through at the co-op or Spar and my pennies simply don't go as far there as they do at somewhere like Asda or Morrisons. That's when I discovered I still had three chicken breasts in the freezer that I didn't know about. (I should probably point out that my tired, old freezer makes so much ice that the polar ice caps aren't really in any danger, I can ship out replacements anytime. This means often a drawer ices up to the point it's impossible to open without hacking at it like a thing possessed so whatever is lurking in said drawer gets forgotten about for a while).

The sudden discovery of chicken was a delight, and enabled us to have a roast dinner last Sunday for the first time since Christmas. The thing with these frozen chicken breasts is it's pretty hit and miss what size they are. Sometimes the bag is full of several rather small breasts, other times you may only get four but they are so big I'm left wondering if they've actually come from an ostrich rather than a chicken. Most of the time its a mix, so I had one large, one medium and one tiny breast in my cooking arsenal.

I trimmed the medium sized breast so I had two small ones to cook for our Sunday dinner, and saved the trimmings and large breast in the fridge. The portions may have been a bit on the small side, but most of us eat too much meat anyway and by the time I'd made a mountain of roast potatoes (some taken out early to freeze), stuffing balls, roasted onions, and plenty of veg we certainly didn't notice that the meat portion was a little mean (Roast spuds are the best bit anyway).

I had made a sponge pudding too, but we were much too stuffed to even attempt that!

The next day I diced the remaining chicken and put it in the slow cooker with plenty of sliced onions, and whatever veg I'd got going over in the cupboard or fridge (several carots, a tomato, a few mushrooms and half a red pepper) along with a 36p chicken casserole mix. I'm not a big fan of mashed potato but hubby loves it and would eat it until it was coming out of his ears, so I served some of the chicken and most of the veg with a mountain of mash.

Another very filling meal. Two down, two to go.

So what to do now? I've got chicken in gravy. Add a couple of spoonful's of frozen peas and a can of sweetcorn and serve with home made potato wedges. Delicious.

Hmmm, not much left now, but there is still quite a bit of gravy, a few pieces of chicken and a little bit of veg. Soup it is then. I added chicken stock, more onion, a clove of garlic and the remains of  a bag of frozen veg that neither of us liked very much, salt and pepper to taste, and blitzed in the blender. I have to say it wasn't the most attractive colour, BUT served with home made soda bread it was very tasty and extremely filling.

So there you have it. Eight servings from three chicken breasts. And despite using just chicken, veg and potatoes for the most part, not boring at all. Each meal was very different from the last. Not bad going if I say so myself!

Sunday, 9 February 2014

My Birthday Box

The first two months of the year, January especially, are what can only be described as infested with birthdays. Not a week goes by without one, some weeks have three or four scattered around to fill up my calendar. They aren't just any old birthday's either, the sort where I can just pop a card in the post or post a message on Facebook, these are important birthdays; parents, children, step children, grandchildren...

Every year it gives me a headache, sleepless nights even worrying about how I'm going to manage to send a grandchild a birthday present when I can't even afford to put the heating on. Every year I say this isn't going to happen again, I'm going to be much more organised in future and plan in advance like I used to. It's ironic really, when I was working and had enough money that I could buy birthday presents and cards as and when I needed to, I always planned in advance. If I saw something I liked, I'd buy it and put it away to use at a later date. If I saw pretty birthday cards I'd buy them straight away so I'd always got one handy if I forgot a birthday. Now, when I really need to do that I talk myself out of it, telling myself that the pound or two I'd be spending could be put to better use. And then panic when another birthday rolls around.
 
Well, no more.
 
Last week I made a start on my 'birthday box' by buying a load of cards. Card Factory is great for this, and often have 10 for £1 on basic cards or 5 for £1 for more special ones, so I spent £2 and bought 15. Now I have a card for just about every occasion and every age. Next week I shall add a book of stamps to the box.
 
Then I shall start keeping an eye open for little things I can use for gifts. It will take time to build up my box, and I'll have to keep replacing things as I use them, but if everything goes according to plan, come next year and the dreaded months of birthdays, all I'll have to do is go to my box and I'll have everything I need.